Vacuum…It’s everywhere: Smog-free cities?

Dutch inventors are working hard at using vacuum to create smog free cities.

In recent years, two projects have taken root in the Netherlands to build giant vacuum cleaners that will suck in air polluted with micro particulates, capture them, and release clean air.

The targets of these technologies are fine and ultra-fine particles, defined as those less than 10 microns (10 millionths of a meter) and 0.1 microns in diameter, respectively, that are generated mainly by combustion, from wood stoves to industrial combustion to municipal waste incineration, and especially from motor vehicles and airplanes. These particles linger in the air we breathe, increasing risk of lung cancer and shortening our lives, according to the World Health Organization.

While awaiting technologies that minimize the generation of these particles, the inventors have developed systems that can move huge volumes of air – one reports some 800,000 cubic meters of air per hour – filtering out 100 percent of fine particles and 95 percent of ultra-fine particles in a 300 meter radius from the system. The inventors envision installing these on the tops of buildings to purify huge volumes of urban air.

Another project – somewhat smaller in scale but also originating in the Netherlands – consists of an architecturally designed 7-meter-tall “Smog-Free Tower” that has been be erected in public spaces in Rotterdam and Beijing and can process 30,000 cubic meters of air per hour, using a low energy ionization technology to create a smog-free bubble of clean air nearby. In an interesting twist, the inventor raised funds for the project with a Kickstarter campaign that captured the particulates and incorporated them into a “Smog-free Ring” that he makes available to Kickstarter donors as a symbol of the investment in clean air.